STEM Solutions Kids Love: KIBO 15 Home Edition

I'm no stranger to the KIBO line of gadgets, designed by the creative minds at KinderLab. (We've reviewed their school version of KIBO a while back, and had such a fun time using it.) They're back with a home version for families and homeschools, which is good for a few reasons. One, this is simple to set up and use -- even more so than the easy interface of the original. But, parents will love that the price is more reasonable, as well. The team at KinderLab sent us one on loan to try for a month, here's what we liked about this little experiment in STEM study.

What is the KIBO 15 Home Edition?

This chunky wooden-bodied robot assembles a lot like a Mr. Potato Head. There are some essential parts, like the wheels, and some extras, like the light, "ear" for capturing and recording sound, and a platform for attaching homemade accessories. In all honestly, my kids just used the ear and light the most. 

There are also cards that kids use to program the robot. They have little barcodes on them, and the robot can be held within a few inches where the red scanning light can pass over the barcodes, and the robot will "beep" to let kids know the scan is successful. You can set up the code cards in sequence. Then, kids can easily scan many in succession for quick coding.

My son liked the light. A lot. He would scan the light card over and over and over and over. At one point, we had the robot, just flashing that same color of light again and again for what seemed like forever. But, my son was proud, because he "coded it" himself!

Other ways we used it

My 7-year-old did scribble quite a bit on the dry-erase surface of the little robot, which helped him explore more imaginary uses of the robot. Is it a monster? A race car? Only he knows, but the writing surface was a nice touch that I didn't realize would be so useful until he got a hold of it.

He also liked to make the robot "wiggle." As you can see from the video below, this robot danced back and forth a bit before it executed the rest of the program cards in my son's creative sequence.

How the KIBO 15 Home Edition Teaches STEM

So, what do a little wooden bot and some cards have to do with STEM? Coding is a big push for educators and career experts these days, but it can be honestly difficult to get kids excited about it when they first sit down and try. Actual code can be boring for kids who don't understand the bigger picture of how the language translates into things they use and enjoy every day.

KIBO bridges this understanding gap. Kids as young as 4 can create a link between the cards for a dancing robot and what code execution really looks like. Plus, it's just a really fun toy. My boys spent hours with this thing each day (even my 10-year-old who built his share of code for the KIBO.) They'll be sad to send it back, but at a much-reduced price tag over the school version, it is definitely something they are considering for a future purchase.

KIBO Home Edition is available for a limited time, during the 2020 holiday season, on the KinderLab Robotics web store (limit 1 per customer).

  • The KIBO 10 Home Edition , for $149, contains the KIBO robot, its wheels and motors, and scannable cards for creating KIBO programs.

  • The KIBO 15 Home Edition , for $199, adds KIBO’s light bulb and sound sensor modules and additional commands, expanding the engineering and programming options, as well as a wooden art stage to enhance the storytelling and imaginative play possibilities.

Which one will you choose?